Toyota to help research blockchain for driverless cars, insurance

Technology touted as a more efficient way to gather and share data, leading to faster development and lower premiums

Toyota to help research blockchain for driverless cars, insurance

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

The Toyota Research Institute, a wholly owned unit of the Japan-based global automaker, announced that it will cooperate with MIT Media Lab and five other companies to research the inclusion of blockchain technology in the development of self-driving cars.

Incorporating blockchain in autonomous vehicle development will allow companies and consumers to securely share data on testing and operation of these vehicles, said a statement by Toyota. The collected usage data can also help set motor insurance rates, it added.

Blockchain is a public online ledger of transactions that is most famous as the software behind bitcoin, the first and most famous digital currency.

“Hundreds of billions of miles of human driving data may be needed to develop safe and reliable autonomous vehicles,” said Chris Ballinger, director of mobility services and chief financial officer of Toyota Research Institute.

“Blockchains and distributed ledgers may enable pooling data from vehicle owners, fleet managers, and manufacturers to shorten the time for reaching this goal.”

Germany-based tech firm Bigchain DB is also involved in the project and will be in charge of building the database. Oaken Innovations, a US-Canadian firm, will develop an application for car-sharing and payments, while Israeli startup Commuterz will create car-pooling software.

Aside from self-driving cars, Toyota also looks to harness blockchain technology to help lower motor insurance premiums. The data collected by the vehicle’s sensors and computer will be stored in a blockchain, which can allow insurers to lower their costs by increasing transparency and combating fraud.

Related stories:
South Korea to set up ‘city’ for development of self-driving cars
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Insurance has ‘key part’ in driverless future

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